Born in slavery in Lexington, Virginia, George Edmondson claimed his freedom in June 1864, when Union forces occupied the town. He evidently accompanied the army across the mountains into West Virginia after its defeat at Lynchburg a week later. He enlisted in the 45th regiment (later the 127th) of the U. S. Colored Infantry in Wheeling and took part in months of grueling trench warfare during the siege of Richmond and Petersburg. He was wounded, promoted to corporal, and was with the first Union troops to enter Petersburg. At war’s end, Edmondson was shipped with the rest of the all-black 25th Corps to the remote coast of Texas.
After his discharge, Edmondson returned to West Virginia, settling in Parkersburg with his wife, Maria McDowell, and their children. He worked in a foundry and glass works and soon owned his own home. A trustee of his Methodist church, he sent one of his sons to Wilberforce University. His obituary described him as “one of the leading citizens of Parkersburg of the older generation.”
“In my mother’s attic”
Bill Webb tells how he discovered his ancestor Brown Colbert, who sought freedom in Africa.